Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• Celebrity Ads Have Never Been Worse Pitt. Depp. Wahlberg. Damon. Bad. Dumb. Stupid. Awful. It’s been proven, again and again. Celebrity ads do not work. They cost a shit-ton to produce and yet do not increase sales; they are a complete waste of money. But brands—the marketing “experts”—keep hiring famous people. Why? (Copyranter)
• The Big Lie’s Long Shadow: How a network of conspiracy peddlers has made the GOP thirsty for major electoral change. (FiveThirtyEight) see also Seven ways Republicans are already undermining the 2024 election The next attempted coup will not be a mob attack, but a carefully plotted and even technically legal one. Instead of costumed rioters, the insurrectionists are men in suits and ties. (The Guardian)
• COVID Hospitalization Numbers Are as Bad as They Look Many supposedly “incidental” infections aren’t really incidental, and cannot be dismissed. (The Atlantic)
• I Spent Insurrection Week Listening to Steve Bannon: Where the Trump coup is real, spectacular, and ongoing. For three hours every day, the Republican coup plotters who inspired the domestic terror attack at the U.S. Capitol last year gather to discuss their next move. On their January 6th anniversary program, the Dead Cops Society beseeched their great patriotic listeners to “Seize The Day. We’re ashamed of nothing. We’re proud of the work we did on January 6th.” (The Bulwark)
• It’s Official: Gun Deaths Hit an All-Time High in 2020 CDC data shows that more than 45,000 Americans died by gunfire for the first time, driven by a spike in homicides. (The Trace)
• Ron Johnson Wasn’t Always Like This. The Trump Years Broke Him. RonJon wasn’t always like this. He used to be a relatively straightforward pro-market, small-government, budget-conscious conservative. He seemed to have a more or less solid grip on reality. But the Trump years broke him, as they broke so many in the Republican Party. (New York Times)
• Lawsuit: Yale, Georgetown, Other Top Schools Illegally Collude to Limit Student Financial Aid A new federal suit adds to continuing efforts to change college admissions practices. (Wall Street Journal)
• What Role Did the Far-Right Platform Parler Play in the Jan. 6 Insurrection? One of the biggest unresolved questions about the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol last year is how much social media factored into the violence that day. One year on, just over 700 people who answered Donald Trump’s call to march on Congress are now facing charges in connection with the assault. Many of those indicted were identified through social media posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Parler, the far-right rival to mainstream platforms. (Slate)
• Accused of Refusing Aid to Disabled Kids, a State Agency Responded — by Hiring a PR Firm Charging nearly $200k, the firm promised to help Florida’s NICA program “win in the court of public opinion.” But in the end, state lawmakers insisted that administrators listen to parents and make changes. (ProPublica)
• We’re All ‘Experts’ Now. That’s Not a Good Thing. It is no wonder that so many of us think that we can parse vaccine trial data, compare personal protective equipment, write school policy and call career scientists idiots on Facebook. We are know-it-alls because we are responsible for knowing everything. And God forbid we should not know something and get scammed. If that happens, it is definitely our fault. (New York Times)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square (with Jack Dorsey), and currently CEO of Invisibly, empowering people to manage the future of their personal data.
World ocean temperatures in 2021 were hottest ever recorded
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.